Children cartoon that not only entertains but teaches about culture

Ashton Palen, Sports Editor

Everyone had their favorite channel as a kid. Whether it was Nickelodeon, Disney, or Cartoon Network, you watched something. And on that favorite channel there was a show that stood above the rest.

For me, that show was “Avatar the Last Airbender”. Avatar had everything going for it — a compelling story, amazing animation, and intense fight scenes. But what it did better than any other show was teach lessons that most shows skirted around, including lessons like how to deal with death, revenge, and physical impairments. Avatar brought eastern philosophy into the minds of western children.

One of the most prevalent of these philosophies is Buddhism. The airbenders themselves were modeled after Tibetan, Shaolin, and Sri Lankan Buddhist monks, respectively. The elements that are in the show are also based off the Hindu and Buddhist idea of the five elements that make up the world: earth, fire, water, air, and aether.

Hinduism is also heavily influential to the show; chakras and chi are throughout the series as an explanation for the fantastic powers the characters hold. One of the characters that knows most about the chakras is based on both Hindu and Buddhist ideas. Guru Pithka is said to know the most about the mystical chakras. Guru Pithka is based on the idea of Hindu Gurus. During one of Aang’s visions, Pithka takes the form of the Hindu goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and learning.

The allusions to Eastern philosophy are numerous in this 61-episode series. Each element had its own philosophy. This show exposed many children to new ideas that they would not have seen otherwise.

That is why it is my favorite childhood show. Other shows get annoying and lose meaning the older you get, but not Avatar. The older you get and the more you learn, the more meaning you can get out of this series. If you haven’t seen this show, or if you just barely remember it, I recommend you sit down this weekend and watch the series all the way through. You won’t regret it.